Thursday, March 4, 2010

La Chacra Millalen (El Hoyo, Argentina)

La Chacra Millalen was the first farm of many we have made plans to work on during our South American adventure. Unfortunately, at Chacra Millalen we weren´t ¨true¨ WWOOFER´s because they only reserve two spaces for volunteers that stay for free in exchange for their work, and those spaces were full. So we had to pay a very reasonable amount to stay, work, and take full advantage of the plethora of delicious fresh vegetables around us. Honestly, each day we probably ate our weight in the dulces and pan alone. Dulces are the fresh jams they make at Millalen, the best ones in my opinion were the frambuesa (raspberry) and the sauco-ciruela (elderberry-plum mix). Plus, we had total access to pick whatever we liked from the garden to cook for ourselves, the other volunteers and Josephina and Fabio, the owners of the farm.

Josephine is one of the more amazing people we´ve encountered thus far on our journey. She is in charge of all the day-to-day operations of Millalen (i.e. delegation of work in the garden, cooking jams and other preserves, harvesting/maintaining the garden, etc.) Whenever someone has a question, Josephine is the one to go to. Also, she speaks fluent Swiss (as she is orginally from Switzerland), Spanish, French, German, and English- and probably more languages I´m unaware of. It was really hilarious to sit at the table for meals and hear her switch languages between the various French, English and Spanish speaking volunteers. Her husband Fabio, is equally amazing but in a different way. He is in charge of all the farm´s counstruction and carpintry. Pretty much, every building and piece of furniture was created by his hands. Once our pictures are posted you will be able to appreciate his beautiful woodwork in the doors, tables, bookshelves, and kitchen counters he made personally. Even more impressive is the amount of work this man did in a single day. He has the stength and energy of a small fleet of horses, but concentrated in the build of a small, middle-aged man.

While at Millalen, we worked in a number of different areas. We learned to make the various jams and preserves as well as the adobe bricks for contruction. We did daily work in la huerta (the garden) which consisted of weeding; harvesting strawberries, rasberries, potatoes, kale, chard, tomatoes, carrots, basil, apples, plums, etc; and transplanting lettuce and kale saplings to newly weeded and edged plant beds. Also, two times a week (but it became more because everyone sort of helped one another) we were responsible for cooking either lunch or dinner for the group of 8-10 people staying on the farm. One night Kate and I made a delicious vegetarian lasagna, another night a loaded vegetable soup, and another time potatoes au gratin with a few veggie side dishes and an orgasmic fresh apple crumble with cream topping.

Another amazing aspect of life at Millalen was the daily siesta, which is basically a mid-afternoon break from work for leisure activities. So each day from around 1 to 430 we were free to hike, swim, nap, devour books from their massive library, play cards, etc. And then work would start up again for another few hours until we would begin to cook dinner. It is truly an amazing system and I think it should be worked into the American way of life immediately.

So obviously, we had an amazing experience on our first farm. We had wonderful hosts, made great new friends in the other volunteers, learned some valuable things about organic farming, and also strengthened our spanish significantly in a short period of time. So our hopes are high for the next farm as well, which we will be starting at this Monday. Wish us luck! Mucha paz y amor a todos!


  1. Wow! Sounds awesome. I'm sure your mom can't wait until you come back to take over the garden, Kate. Glad to hear you've invested your graduation money wisely. The pictures are amazing.

  2. the strawberries look great... I planted them! My wife and I were at Millalen last year in Sept/Oct. It is great to see some pictures of the place in full bloom and read your blog, such wonderful memories of that time. Happy travels

  3. Hey there!
    I don't know if you remember me, I'm Mark, the guy with the dreads at the end of the table in the picture on this page! I was just wondering how you guys got on with your travels and where you're at now? I myself am still traveling around, and after a brief return to Europe am now in Canada, planing to head west as soon as the snow starts to thaw!
    I hope you are still having a great time wherever you now are.
    Be great to get some news, you an e-mail me anytime at tera_1225 (at) hotmail (dot) com